Profanity. Bloody violence. Illicit sex. That’s what Don and Lynda Wildmon and their four young children found on the three major television networks at Christmas time in 1977. Those were their only choices. It was the impetus that inspired Don Wildmon to begin AFA for one main purpose: to try to impact television programming and its negative impact on families.
He knew that a strong marriage based on godly principles is the cornerstone of a strong family. And if he could just help Christian parents realize where the nation’s secular entertainment movement was taking us, he could equip them to take a stand and restore biblical values to their rightful place of respect in our culture.”
“Yes, Dad recognized that television and movies offered almost no positive role models for children and families,” said Tim Wildmon, Don’s oldest son, now president of AFA. “I was only 14 years old, but even then, 44 years ago, I sensed the passion that inspired him to start this ministry.”
Through the years, AFA’s six core values have expanded to include additional specific issues, but challenging families to cultivate and reflect biblical values remains one of them, clearly stated this way: “AFA aims to strengthen biblical marriages and equip parents to raise godly children.”
The scriptural basis for biblical marriage comes early in the historical account of creation:
… for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
At last this is bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called woman,
Because she was taken out of man.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:20-24, NASB).
I’ve worked alongside Don and Tim Wildmon for 38 of AFA’s 44 years. I contend that this ministry’s impact – though not objectively measured – has been observably major. AFA continues to impact both parts of this goal – one, providing information and courage for Christian citizens to be active in the culture and two, challenging husbands and wives to build stronger marriages based on the Word of God.
I believe I have the evidence to make my case. Just visit the AFA Resource Center (resources.afa.net). It features many items to encourage godly parenting and family spiritual growth. For example, a four-DVD set by parenting expert John Rosemond helps parents instill Christian principles in their children. Apologist Alex McFarland’s DVD curriculum The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity is an invaluable aid for parents. Many resources on American history and cultural issues fit the entire family.
Specifically for children are DVDs that teach drawing and painting, the Ryan Defrates animated DVD series created to teach moral values to children, and The Covenant Creek Kids book series in which children in the stories learn American history.
By Design (afa.net/bydesign), a new AFA initiative, further reinforces the critical role of godly marriage in our culture. The website offers numerous original videos from AFA staff members and spouses and a growing collection of encouraging articles.
By Design’s mission is “to educate and encourage people to embrace God’s design for marriage and family as the fundamental building block for all of human civilization and to celebrate the union of one man and one woman as the objective institution that produces human flourishing.”
“In addition to our proactive resources,” said AFA senior VP Ed Vitagliano, “to stand for biblical marriage in our anti-Christian climate implies the obvious ‘other side of the coin’ – and that is to stand against gay marriage and its devastating impact on the culture.”
“The case,” wrote Beasler, “is that of Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington.” In 2014, she declined to design floral arrangements for a gay wedding because of her Christian belief in the biblical definition of marriage.
Stutzman soon suffered the wrath of LGBTQ activists, and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson wrote the florist a letter threatening to sue if she refused to serve gay weddings. The legal assault has gone through the courts until last July. When the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Stutzman’s case. The decision leaves Stutzman vulnerable to financial ruin.
How does AFA weigh in on an issue like this one? First, AFA stands with Christian legal defense groups that represent victims such as Stutzman.
“We often do that,” said Vitagliano, “by using all of our communication avenues to publicize these cases. And we urge readers, listeners, and online constituents to speak up by signing petitions relevant to specific cases.”
Information. Encouragement. Challenge. AFA offers the resources to citizens and civic servants, Christian individuals, parents, and families. All they have to do is take a stand.
I rest my case.